I’m baking Easter bread this morning, and listening to April Verch’s fabulous new album, Once a day. This collection of classic Country & Western songs took me by surprise. I’ve been a fan of April Verch for years, and what I’ve come to expect is fantastic fiddle music, both in the Canadian and Appalachian old time traditions, mixed with superb step-dancing, occasional singing, and great duets with another of my fave performers, Joe Newberry – but this is something else altogether.
In the liner notes, Ms Verch writes, “From before I could even talk my parents would take us camping each year to the Lake Dore Country & Western Jamboree.” She’s clearly presenting a collection of a style of music she grew up with. The album contains a mix of tunes previously recorded by big name old school C&W performers such as Connie Smith, Webb Pierce, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, Hank Snow, and the Maddox Brothers and Rose but to my delight it also has songs by the fabulous Ottawa Valley performer Mac Beattie, Lucille Starr, and Bob King, who sang with The Happy Wanderers in Ottawa.
On Lake Dore Waltz, April Verch sings with her dad (!!!), and channels the spirit of the late great Mac Beattie and his Ottawa Valley Melodiers. What a wonderful performance! And it’s no wonder, given the musicians assembled on this recording, including Al Perkins on pedal steel, Redd Volkaert on guitar, and Kenny Sears joining April Verch on fiddle.
Another suprise on this recording is a tune I know well, Durham’s Bull, by Buddy Durham. I learned this tune on banjo a couple years ago at Midwest Banjo Camp, taught by Cathy Barton Para (who sadly passed away just the other evening). It’s a great tune, and lots of fun to try to do on banjo, especially up to speed.
Growing up, I developed a fondness for this kind of classic Country & Western music. When I was a young boy, my dad bought me an old record player, the kind that needed a penny or two balanced on the needle to stop the record from skipping. The same day he gave me my first record, which was Walkin’ the Floor over you by Ernest Tubb. Dad used to tell me, “Son, there are 2 Hanks, Snow and Williams, and Snow is the best one”. April Verch’s Once A Day recording transports me right back to those days.
This album gets the 27th Street stamp of approval. Highly recommended.